Happy Birthday Sam
I started this in my head about fifteen times and always discard it because it is too much about me. How to proceed, then?
I shut you down big time earlier this year, as you know. Believe me when I say (again) how embarrassed I am for that.
I can’t promise that I’ll believe this tomorrow, but special for today let me say that I think your life has proven that despite your being the younger brother, you lead the way in exemplifying the best qualities a man can possess, especially when measured against a certain “know-it-all who can’t keep his trap shut.” See? What is the problem?
I’m proud of you. I love you. The last two visits have been very nice. H- seems very nice. Hold her like a butterfly.
PS – I’m so excited for the speech come April. You are not going to regret your decision. (You should be nervous enough to consider if maybe you should pick someone else, but not so nervous that you do more than consider it. Part of the reason I’m struggling now is I can’t say a lot that I’m saving for that more appropriate setting.)
PPS – I need the next month to go by slow; the fast-approaching trip to Copper is having the opposite effect, no thanks to you.
For Better Or Worse
If I knew one thing about weddings, it was that they had tremendous opportunities for speech giving. Never being one to care about the actual rules, when my sister was getting married, this would’ve been 2004-ish, I knew I wanted to feel the smooth, dry, cold handle of a microphone in my hand.
After getting the nod from my sister, I wrote a poem of sorts for the occasion. Having just finished a season of Russell Simmons’ Deaf Poetry Jam on HBO, I labeled myself a “Suburban Wordsmith.” Being proud of that title, I even began the reading by introducing myself as such.
I don’t remember how the moment was chosen, or who did the choosing, but I confidently held the microphone in my hand just before the DJ was scheduled to lift people out of their seats. I knocked everyone’s socks off with my little speech.
I think he was happy that it moved her, though I also think it was lost on my brother-in-law (he’s an accountant). But the rest of everyone liked it, or at least they told me so. I should say, the rest of everyone under the age of 70. Given that it was my first time in a room of that size, all I was able to give the old folks was a longing for the days when people spoke loud enough to hear.
Today, the speech—I think—still sits on their dresser, framed in a very gaudy, tacky, but somehow fitting frame that is made up of textured flower heads, all very pastel.
I didn’t know it then, but I do now, that that moment should be counted as one of the most revealing moments of my life. To me, doing that was what any brother would do. But when I really sit back and think about the fact that, for fun, I wrote and delivered a speech that honored my sister at her wedding in very heartfelt ways, the truth is I don’t know too many people who do that. And the ones that would do that probably consider themselves wordsmiths as well. I used to think I did it because I cared more, or had a bigger heart. That sounds like vanity to me these days.
Flying by, the decade since has confirmed that for better or worse I am a writer.